GREENSBORO - The North Carolina A&T volleyball team will have a new look in 2012 after the signing of five players to go along with the nucleus that was already assembled. The new-look Aggies will make their debut on August 24 in the Western Carolina Wildcat Classic against St. Peter's at 4 p.m., in Cullowhee, N.C.
Second-year head coach Hal Clifton released the Aggies 2012 schedule on Thursday. It includes four regular-season tournaments, including the Wildcat Classic and an invitational A&T and cross-town rival UNC Greensboro will share. The schedule also includes 11 home dates.
"Co-hosting a home tournament with UNCG is great for our team and A&T as a whole," said Clifton. "It's one less weekend we are on the road. Playing on the road all preseason is a grind on the players and staff. It's nice to be in familiar surroundings and in the comfort of your own home. Plus, it gives our fans a chance to see the team early."
After the Western Carolina Wildcat Classic, the Aggies will play locally at Elon University before playing in the Coppin State Invitational Aug. 31-Sept. 1. The Spartan-Aggie Invitational will run Sept. 7-8 with the Aggies opening against American University at home. A&T plays at UNCG's Fleming Gymnasium against the Spartans on Saturday, Sept. 8 before closing out the invitational later in the day against UNC Asheville at home.
"It is a tough schedule but one that will prepare us for the MEAC," said Clifton. "We play a number of schools that have had recent success in the SoCon and Big South (conferences). Our team will be challenged early and often as we compete against a number of teams with experienced players that are used to winning."
American has won the Patriot League 10 out of the last 11 seasons, and finished last season with an RPI ranking of 97. Appalachian State (Tues., Sept. 18, Boone, N.C.) and High Point (Sun., Sept. 23, at home) have been competitive in their respective conferences over the past few seasons. Radford (Tues., Oct., 9, at home) was the Big South runner-up in 2011.
Conference play for A&T begins 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 28 at home against archrival N.C. Central. The MEAC Volleyball Championship Tournament is Nov. 16-18 at a location yet to be determined. The Aggies are looking for their first tournament appearance in five seasons. The full 2012 A&T volleyball schedule can be found on ncataggies.com.